PolarSat buys broadband assets of NSI Global

Former employees of NSI Global Inc.’s broadband division bought their previous employer’s assets to form satellite communications equipment company PolarSat Inc., it was announced on Wednesday.

NSI Global Inc., based in Montreal, still exists but now focuses on the remote asset management market. It provides services and equipment so firms such as trucking companies can continuously monitor the location of their vehicles.

In order to make the purchase, which includes existing inventory, receivables and contracts previously held by NSI’s broadband division, former employees obtained US$9 million financial backing by three satellite broadband service providers – Telenor Satellite Networks in Slovakia, Infinium Ltd. in India, and Agilis Communication Technologies Pte. Ltd. in Singapore.

“After the bankruptcy, a couple of key investors were current customers and worked with us at the time,” said Ron Mankarious, vice-president of business development at PolarSat in Montreal.

He added that PolarSat retained most of the manufacturing and engineering staff formerly employed by NSI Global’s broadband division to retain key knowledge.

PolarSat will be manufacturing two very small aperture terminals (VSATs) – the VSAT Plus II and the FlexiDAMA – that retain the same names they had under NSI Global because PolarSat did not want to tamper with industry recognition of the technology, Mankarious said.

He said the VSAT Plus II gives runs at speeds of 8Mpbs in both directions and is ideal for supporting customers with multiple users and costs about US$10,000. It requires no hub.

The FlexiDAMA is a lower-end model than the VSAT Plus II and gives users speeds up to 2Mpbs in both directions and is ideal for small satellite offices and costs US$5,000. This model requires only a very small hub.

Voice, video and data can be channelled through these VSATs and both models support C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band technology. While all of PolarSat’s usage is currently in the C-band and Ku-band arenas, their equipment also supports Ka-band implementations. Right now few Ka-band deployments exist, but a recent study by Frost & Sullivan based in Burlingame, Calif. indicated that Ka-band services would be hitting the market as early as 2004.

Geared towards users in remote areas who have no access to terrestrial broadband services, Mankarious said the prime verticals targeted by PolarSat are mining, oil and gas exploration and government agencies. He said these are the areas the company would try to penetrate in the Canadian market.

Most of PolarSat’s current users are concentrated in China, India, Africa and Southeast Asia, Mankarious said, however they do have some users in the United States such as Dow Jones & Company Inc., and international relief organizations such as Unicef and the Red Cross, Mankarious said.

Customers can use PolarSat’s VSATs by two methods – either by purchasing the models directly from the company and leasing satellite bandwidth from a service provider and running the network themselves, or they could select a service provider that employs PolarSat’s technology.

PolarSat’s VSAT terminals are available now.

For more information visit www.polarsat.com.